The pandemic gave new Barnes & Noble CEO James Daunt the chance to speed up store refurbishment plans that were initially supposed to play out over about two years. When the lockdowns hit, the retailer was able to send teams to paint, rearrange and change stock at more than 350 of the chain's 614 stores, as part of a bigger plan to revive the brand.
Nordstrom has consolidated its merchandising functions in a move designed to increase efficiency and cut costs, the retailer said in a letter to vendors last month. Merchandising duties for all channels including full-line, off-price and digital retail will now be handled by general merchandise managers and divisional merchandise managers.
Tanger Factory Outlet Centers CEO Steven Tanger bet that consumers' boredom and love of a bargain would bring them back to his company's outlet centers once they reopened. The decision not to shift gears and explore new business models seems to be paying off: With 72% of stores reopened as of June 14, foot traffic was at more than 85% of year-ago levels.
Furniture retailers including HOM Furniture and Room & Board are courting home-bound consumers with perks like deeper discounts, zero-interest financing and free delivery offers. "The unprecedented nature and impact of COVID led us to consider new strategies to drive business when we temporarily closed our stores and delivery centers," Room & Board spokeswoman Dianna Bauer said.
Shoe retailer Keen has outfitted stores with "Fit Shields" to keep employees and customers distanced while still allowing staffers to help shoppers find the right fit. The six-foot-high barriers of clear vinyl plastic have openings at foot level and can be moved around the store.
Imports at major US cargo ports were down 17.2% in May from the same month last year, and they're likely to follow a similar pattern through the fall, according to the Global Port Tracker report from NRF and Hackett Associates. "Economic indicators show that the recession brought on by the pandemic may be easing, but retailers are being conservative with the amount of merchandise they import this year," NRF's Jonathan Gold said.
HSN and QVC have launched a virtual version of "The Big Find," a global search for the latest products in categories including jewelry, fashion and beauty. Parent Qurate Retail Group created the program a year ago, and the first of the winning products were featured by the multiplatform retailers in the first quarter of this year.
Montreal-based retailer DavidsTea said it will file for protection from creditors with a plan to shift to an e-commerce and wholesale grocery distribution model. The company's 220 stores in Canada and the US have remained closed since shuttering in March because of the pandemic.
A number of small retailers share their experiences in reopening during the new normal. Lori Krause, owner of Thred Lab, has used the crisis to kick-start her online sales, while Becky Zimmerman, owner of Collective Charm, has even scaled back inventory to ensure social distancing guidelines can be met.
Financial advisers can provide assistance to entrepreneurs grappling with several tasks, including the need to lower debt, raise cash and assess opportunities as they arise, writes Kyle Brownlee of Wymer Brownlee. "It can be hard to figure out which opportunities are worth pursuing, especially if the offer comes from a friend or relative," Brownlee notes.
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